Leadership skills in a crisis.

It’s 31 March 2020 and we, in New Zealand, are in Day 6 of locking ourselves in our homes and going out only for exercise and essential shopping. Most of us are in hibernation; some in isolation if there was any possibility of direct contact with the virus. We are doing it in trust to protect our vulnerable citizens and buy us time for a vaccine to be developed to halt the Covid 19 virus decimating our population.

We need effective leadership in a time of crisis. That leadership can come from the grassroots and from established authority.

I believe that New Zealanders have confidence in the leadership shown by our Prime Minister and her team. They have shown


To act quickly and decisively. There is a cost to the lockdown measures; freedom has been curtailed, jobs have been lost. The short term losses have been made for the longer term safety of all. It is a big ask and I think our Prime Minister’s previous acts of compassion and courage have given her credibility in the eyes of the country, which makes it easier to follow her instructions.


An emphasis has been on the safety of the most vulnerable – defined as those over 70 and those with current health problems. Civil Defence has been updating contact lists and asking community groups what processes they have to look out for those over 70. There is publicity about connecting with family, friends and neighbours and keeping connected as a community.

Clear Communication:

Many of us turn on the television at 1 pm for a 30 minute information session with our leaders – political, medical, police. They are giving a clear and consistent message using simple words and concepts : “Stay Home Save Lives”. Live in your “bubble”. “Sneeze into your elbow”

New terminology has been used eg ” Social distance” and this is measurable at 2 metres away from another person. We have been asked to keep our distance – and more importantly been given what that means.

We are given the how and why of “Wash Your Hands”. How – 20 Seconds or singing “Happy Birthday” twice. Why – washing with soap and drying breaks the viruses coating and destroys it.

There is also leadership from the community itself.


Resources are being freely shared to support young families entertain their children. The “Going on a Bear Hunt” asks for teddy bears to be put in windows so families out for a walk can give their children something to look for.

“Clap to Care” was a call for New Zealanders to go to the gate at 7 pm on Sunday 29 March and clap in appreciation of those who are away from their families providing essential services.

A crisis can bring out the best in us. It causes us to review what is really important and by working together, albeit from isolated pockets, we can regain and strengthen our community. The key factors are courage, compassion, clear communication and creativity.

From my bubble to yours – Take care, we are connected and we can rise above this crisis.

Author: Yvonne Simpson

This blog shares my leadership journey and my passion for educating to lead.

2 thoughts on “Leadership skills in a crisis.”

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